6 BEST Instant Tents for Effortless Set Up This Year (2023)

by | Nov 27, 2022 | Tents

We love going camping, but we don’t love spending lots of time setting up and taking down our tent. Starting and ending a great camping trip by spending unnecessary time fussing with tent poles is no fun, and it’s one of the most time consuming (and possibly frustrating) parts of the camping experience. That’s why we’ve recently upgraded to an instant tent!

Instant tents are designed to have the easiest and quickest setup possible and will usually have pre-attached poles, guylines, and rainfly. There’s less time spent pushing poles through sleeves and more time spent enjoying camping. Not all instant tents are created equal, which is why we’ve taken the time to research, test, and assemble a list of the best ones.

We’ve organized our top picks by capacity, that way you can find the perfect instant tent that fits you and your camping group. We tested lots of different tents, but we’ve narrowed it down to six different models that stood out to us. Whether you go with our Editor’s Choice Gazelle T4 or any of the other options on this list, we hope it will provide you with a quick shelter and many priceless camping memories for years to come.

Based on our tests, the best instant tent is the Gazelle T4 Hub. It’s extremely waterproof and weatherproof with high quality fabrics that make it ready to camp time and time again, while still having a super quick setup time.
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6 Best Instant Tents

IMAGE PRODUCT
Gazelle T4 Hub
  • Best waterhead rating on this list
  • Best fabric quality on this list makes for a durable tent
  • Cabin tent that sets up in just 90 seconds
VIEW BEST PRICE →VIEW ON AMAZON →
Coleman Pop Up Camping Tent with Dark Room Technology
  • Pop up tent that sets up in 10 seconds
  • One of the smaller instant pop up tents
  • Dark Room technology blocks 90% of sunlight
VIEW ON AMAZON →
Caddis Rapid 4
  • One of the best instant setup tents
  • Steel poles High denier fabrics
  • Generous max height for a 4 person tent
VIEW BEST PRICE →VIEW ON AMAZON →
Outdoor Products 6 Person Instant Cabin Tent
  • Sets up in under 60 seconds
  • Freestanding cabin tent with two doors
  • Fits 2 queen sized air mattresses
VIEW ON AMAZON →
Core 9 Instant Cabin Tent
  • Two color options
  • Fits two queen sized air mattresses
  • 1 year warranty 60-second setup
VIEW ON AMAZON →
Core Tent with LED Lighting
  • Sets up in 2 minutes
  • Included LED lighting 1 year warranty
  • Large tent that’s great for family camping trips
VIEW ON AMAZON →

Editor’s Choice – Gazelle T4 Hub

We’ve selected the T4 Hub by Gazelle as our Editor’s Choice best instant camping tent because of the quality of the materials used. Not only that, but it also sets up in only 90 seconds, has a tall max height (6’6″), and it comes with a 1 year warranty.

The first thing that we noticed about this tent is the high quality fabric that stands out above the other options on this list. It has a 210-denier fabric on the canopy and rainfly, plus a 300-denier on the tent floor. What do these numbers mean? This fabric is built to withstand the wear and tear of camping for many years to come, and this number is much higher than the other tents below.

The fabric also has a UPF 50+ rating, which means it’s UV-resistant and helps protect the campers inside. Plus, the fabric has a high wateproof rating (2000mmm shell, 5000mm floor) that keeps out rain and moisture. We didn’t have a single drop of water inside our tent after several rain storms, so we were quite impressed.

The second thing we noticed is how quick this tent sets up. It took us less than two minutes, and we really loved the pop out walls. The other instant tents on this list require that you manually extend the attached poles, but there’s no extending with the Gazelle. The walls just pop into place when you pull on the exterior strap that’s conveniently placed on each wall.

The rainfly is removable so you can expose the ceiling mesh during clear weather, but even with it on we felt like there was plenty of air circulation. This is due to the large mesh windows on all sides of the tent that allow for a refreshing cross breeze no matter which direction the wind is coming from.

Gazelle has also put some effort into the small details on this tent, such as YKK zippers that are super durable, two D-shaped doors for easy access, and a removable gear loft plus six gear storage pockets. The storage pockets are oversized, so we were able to fit everything in there from a phone and keys to a rain jacket.

The only downside we were able to find is that it uses fiberglass tent poles, which is less preferred over steel or aluminum poles. However, this is how the super quick walls pop into place, so it’s part of the trade off. That being said, this tent is still a really great tent that’s built to last and withstand all kinds of weather.

Note: This tent also comes in an extended screen room version that includes a weatherproof screen room that sleep an additional four people.

About the Brand

For over 15 years, Gazelle Tents has been a hallmark of quality in outdoor equipment. Their tents blend durability with innovative design, making them a trusted choice for adventurers. Their longstanding reputation in the industry testifies to their commitment and the trust they’ve earned from customers. Simply put, Gazelle Tents crafts exceptional shelters for every outdoor enthusiast.

Specifications

  • Weight: 30 lbs.
  • Floor size: 94″ x 94″
  • Peak height: 78″
  • Fabric: 210-denier canopy & rainfly, 300-denier floor
  • Waterhead Rating: 2000mm shell, 5000mm floor
  • Poles: fiberglass
  • Tent Square Feet: 61.36 sq.ft.
  • Square Feet Per Person: 15.34 sq.ft.
  • Highlight: Highest quality fabrics and waterhead rating
  • Price: $$$
Look at all the mesh on the inside of the Gazelle T4!

Pros

  • Best waterhead rating on this list
  • Best fabric quality on this list makes for a durable tent
  • Cabin shaped tent that sets up in just 90 seconds
  • Several mesh windows for ventilation

Cons

  • Fiberglass poles

Best Pop Up Tent (2-Person) – Coleman Pop Up Camping Tent

If you want the quickest possible setup time, this Coleman Pop Up is the way to go. It pops into place in as little as 10 seconds, so you have a quaint home away from home almost instantly.

Coleman makes some really great outdoor products that are quite affordable, and this pop-up tent fits perfectly into that category. It’s a 2-person pop-up tent that’s also available in a 4-person capacity, and it’s an awesome tent that sets up remarkably quick.

For assembly, this tent pops up in literally 10 seconds. It uses pre attached tent poles, guylines and rainfly, so everything is ready to just pop open. Simply open the folded tent, set it on the ground, and stake the corners. So easy!

The rainfly comes attached, but you can remove it and expose the mesh roof for increased ventilation. To take it down, you may need two people to make it easier, but the tent packs down into the included storage bag quite easily once you get the hang of it. Several users reported that the tent was difficult to pack away, but we found it to be simple enough after a couple of tries.

The main downside of this tent is that there’s no information on the tent’s fabric thickness or the waterhead rating. Because of this, we wouldn’t recommend using this tent for long camping trips or times you could be exposed to rain. It would be perfect for casual campers who enjoy summer camping in nice weather conditions or even as a kids tent for the backyard.

P.S. – If you’re partial to the Coleman brand and want something larger, they do make a Coleman Instant Tent in a 6-person, 8-person, and 10-person capacity (the 10-person is also a dark room tent).

P.S.S. – If you’re looking for a backpacking tent that pops up, there’s not really much on the market besides the Teton Sports Vista 2. You’re basically trading setup convenience for weight since this tent weighs over 6 lbs., but it’s really easy to setup because you just left the top of the tent.

Specifications

  • Weight: 6.8 lbs.
  • Floor size: 7ft. 6in. x 4ft. 5in. (90″ x 53″)
  • Tent Square Feet: 33.12 sq.ft.
  • Square Feet Per Person: 16.56 sq.ft.
  • Peak height: 2’11″
  • Setup Time: 10 seconds
  • Highlight: Small tent with instant setup
  • Price: $
This pop up tent also comes in another version that has Dark Room Technology.

Pros

  • Pop up tent that sets up in 10 seconds
  • One of the smaller instant pop up tents
  • Perfect for 1 or 2 people
  • Also available with Dark Room technology
  • 1 year warranty

Cons

  • No information on fabric thickness or waterhead rating

Best 4-Person Instant Tent Caddis Rapid 4

Caddis is one of our favorite tents brands and we highly recommend their Rapid 4. Not only does it set up quickly and easily, but it also uses high quality materials and has a tall max height that makes it feel spacious and comfortable.

The fabric is 190-denier on the rainfly and canopy, with the floor being 210-denier. These numbers are well above what we consider to be our ‘minimum’ rating, so we like that it’s built to the withstand wear of regular camping.

Plus, the poles are made of heavy-duty steel, which we prefer over fiberglass any day. This makes it more sturdy and the poles will last longer. It’s the only tent on this list that uses steel poles, which is why we’ve selected it for the best 4-person option.

The Rapid 4 is really quick and easy to set up – you essentially just have to take off the bag, unfold the poles, and raise it up before staking it in the ground. It also has a generous max height of 80 inches (6 ft. 8 in.) and near vertical walls, so there’s plenty of standing room even though it’s one of the smaller tents on this list.

Although we couldn’t find any information on the waterhead rating, we think this tent is high quality enough for campers who want a tent that’s built to last. It has lots of headroom for a 4 person tent, and the fabric and poles are made of high quality materials. Plus, it’s one of the highest rated instant camping tents on our list, and the tent comes in a 6 person capacity.

Specifications

  • Weight: 20 lbs. 8 oz.
  • Floor size: 96″ x 96″
  • Peak height: 80″
  • Pole Material: steel
  • Fabric: 190-denier rainfly and canopy, 210-denier floor
  • Tent Square Feet: 64 sq.ft.
  • Square Feet Per Person: 16
  • Highlight: Quality fabrics and steel poles
  • Price: $$

Pros

  • One of the best instant setup tents
  • Steel poles
  • High denier fabrics
  • Generous max height for a 4 person tent
  • Freestanding tent that can fit one air mattress
  • Has an electric cord access port

Cons

  • No waterhead rating

Best 6-Person Instant Tent – Outdoor Products 6 Person Instant Cabin Tent

Outdoor Products is a smaller outdoors company that’s been around since 1973, and they make a great 6 person tent. It takes less than 60 seconds to set up, so you can enjoy more time at camp focusing on the important things.

They also use extended eaves, and we noticed that the rainfly sticks out from the top and sides of the tent. It still keeps you dry, but it also allows for increased ventilation since air can move more freely between the tent and the rainfly. This was a nice change from other tents that usually completely cut off circulation once the rainfly is on.

We couldn’t find a waterhead rating on this tent, but it does follow some basic steps to help keep you dry. This includes a tub-shaped floor, sealed seams, and weather block technology. This means this tent is great for casual campers who don’t normally encounter severe weather, although it can still hold up to strong winds.

It also has built-in storage pockets for your other camping gear, multi-media pockets, as well as two ground vents for even more air circulation. The no-see-um mesh allows for a breeze on dry days or can zipper shut for privacy and weather protection.

Overall this is a great instant camping tent with a 6-person capacity, and offers plenty of floor space for small groups of campers. It has been tested to withstand winds up to 40 mph, so it is plenty weather resistant for casual campers.

Specifications

  • Weight: 23.5 lbs.
  • Floor size: 10 ft. x 9 ft.
  • Peak Center Height: 72″
  • Poles: steel
  • Tent Square Feet: 90 sq.ft.
  • Square Feet Per Person: 15
  • Highlight: Affordable weather resistant tent for your next car camping trip
  • Price: $$

Pros

  • Sets up in under 60 seconds
  • Freestanding cabin-style tent with two doors
  • Fits 2 queen sized air mattresses
  • Steel tent poles
  • Built in storage pockets and multi-media pockets

Cons

  • No waterhead rating

Best 8-Person Instant Tent – Core 9 Instant Cabin Tent

CORE makes some really highly rated tents, and their Core 9 person instant cabin is one of our favorites from their product line. It’s super spacious, easy to set up, and can be made into two separate rooms.

While this specific camping tent is called the Core 9, it’s actually more suited for sleeping 8 people based on capacity. The nine in the product name actually refers to the depth of the tent, which is 9 feet, not the capacity.

This CORE instant tent uses an Instant Hub Technology that ensures a quick setup in less than 60 seconds, and there’s even a divider in the middle that can create two separate rooms.

With an oversized main door, two side doors, seven large windows, an adjustable ground vent, and a mesh roof (with removable rainfly cover), this tent is ready for lots of ventilation. Or zipper the windows shut for privacy and wet weather protection.

There’s also a built-in electrical port, gear loft, and storage pockets, as well as a fully taped rainfly and seams. It can fit two queen air beds and is an airy and roomy tent. Combine this with steel poles and 68-denier fabric, and you have a cabin style tent that’s ready for family camping trips and fun times outdoors.

P.S. – Their Core 10 made our best 10 person tents list and their Core 11 made our best tents with a screen room list. These tents are all great alternatives to the Coleman Instant Cabin tent, which isn’t as highly rated as the CORE by its users.

Specifications

  • Weight: 37 lbs.
  • Floor size: 14′ x 9′
  • Peak height: 78″ (6.5 ft.)
  • Fabric: 150D door, 68D elsewhere
  • Poles: steel
  • Tent Square Feet: 126 sq.ft.
  • Square Feet Per Person: 15.75
  • Number of Rooms: 1-2
  • Highlight: Lots of ventilation Price: $$

Pros

  • Two color options
  • Fits two queen sized air mattresses
  • 1 year warranty 60-second setup
  • Large mesh windows for air circulation

Cons

  • No information on waterhead rating

Best 10-Person Instant Tent – Core Tent with LED Lighting

Core has made our list again with this 10 person tent. We really love the screen room and the included LED lighting, which is something we don’t typically see in other tents. Even with these features, it’s still an affordable price that won’t break the bank.

We are always a fan of a cool screen room, and we really like how this family tent includes a screened patio that’s perfect for bug-free hanging out.

We especially liked the LED lighting that’s built into the tent poles, which was perfect for getting in and out of the tent in the dark. There is three different brightness settings that go up to 950 lumens: high, low, and nightlight (see photo below) that are controlled by the push of a button.

To make it even better, this tent uses poles that are pre-attached to set up in as little as two minutes and has a removable room divider that gives you the option for a two room tent. With all the screened windows, overhead mesh roof with a view of the night sky, and lower air intake vents, there’s lots of ventilation.

While the tent body does have sealed seams and a taped rainfly, it is considered water-resistant and not water-proof. The 600mm waterhead rating is below water-proof levels, so this tent is best for fair weather camping weekends, or you can treat it yourself before taking it on your next family camping trip. If you want something with better weather resistance, perhaps some other tents on this list would be a better option.

Specifications

  • Weight: 47.8 lbs.
  • Floor size: 14′ x 10′
  • Peak Center Height: 84″ (7 ft.)
  • Poles: Fiberglass
  • Fabric: 68-denier
  • Number of Rooms: 1-2
  • Tent Square Feet: 140 sq.ft.
  • Square Feet Per Person: 14
  • Highlight: Huge tent with oversized screen room and included LED lighting.
  • Price: $$

Pros

  • Sets up in 2 minutes
  • Included LED lighting 1 year warranty
  • Large tent that’s great for family camping trips

Cons

  • 600mm waterhead rating

Comparison Table

Here’s a table comparing the tents featured in the post and their weight, dimensions, capacity, peak height, and highlight:

Tent ModelWeightDimensionsCapacityPeak HeightHighlight
Gazelle T4 Hub30 lbs.94″ x 94″4-878″Highest quality fabrics and waterhead rating
Coleman Pop Up Tent 2P6.8 lbs.7’6″ x 4’5″22’11”Perfect for 1 or 2 people
Caddis Rapid 420 lbs.96″ x 96″480″Quality fabrics and steel poles
Outdoor Products Instant23.5 lbs.10′ x 9′672″Weather resistant 6 person tent
Core 9 Tent37 lbs. 14′ x 9′878″Lots of ventilation
Core Tent with LED47.8 lbs.14′ x 10′1084″Huge tent with oversized screen room
A table comparing the tents from our list above and their weight, dimensions, capacity, peak height, highlight and fabric quality.

What is an Instant Tent?

An instant tent is a type of camping equipment designed for quick and effortless setup. These tents typically have a built-in pole system that is already attached to the tent fabric, enabling them to be erected in a matter of minutes, if not seconds.

To assemble this type of tent, you simply have to take it out of its bag, unfold it, and then extend the poles. It is a convenient option for campers, festival-goers, or anyone who wants to minimize the time and effort involved in pitching a traditional tent.

Are Instant Tents Worth It?

Whether an instant tent is worth it or not largely depends on your camping needs and priorities. For those who value convenience and time-efficiency, this type of tent can be a fantastic investment. They’re particularly beneficial for novices, for families with young kids, or for those who frequently move locations. These tents can be set up in minutes, allowing more time for other outdoor activities.

However, they may not always provide the level of durability or weather resistance that some of the more traditional, complex-to-set-up tents do. Therefore, if you plan on camping in harsh weather conditions or rugged terrains, you might want to consider a more robust tent model. The balance between convenience and durability is a key factor in deciding if this kind of tent is worth it for you.

Thing to Consider When Choosing an Instant Tent

When shopping for the best instant tents, it’s important to take into consideration capacity, shape, ease of setup, fabric durability, waterhead rating, and poles.

Capacity

One of the first things we will always talk about before purchasing a tent is the capacity rating, or the number of people a tent is advertised to sleep. This number is for people who want to sleep in really close quarters shoulder to shoulder, without extra floor space for camping gear, clothing, pets, etc. For most situations, you should always decrease the capacity by at least two campers, meaning that a 6-person tent is also better suited for four campers or less. You could even cut the capacity number in half if you wanted lots of extra space or if you like sleeping on blow up mattresses.

An interior view of the CORE 12 Person tent with LED lights.

In the tents above, we’ve included specifications for the square footage of each tent, as well as the square foot per person based on recommended capacity. You can see that each tent hovers right around 15 sq.ft. per person, which is on the extreme low end of the range for the amount of floor space each person should be allotted. Read more about camping tent size if you’re interested in learning more about how much interior space you need in a tent or how to calculate the camping tent size you should purchase.

Shape

Most of the tents on this list are instant cabin tents, which feature near vertical walls and square or rectangle shapes. They have very generous max heights that let you stand up and walk around in almost the entire tent, and this can be either a pro or a con depending on the type of conditions you typically encounter when car camping.

Because of the high ceiling and straight walls in a cabin-style tent, they’re more likely to catch wind like a sail, which isn’t good if you camp during adverse weather. That’s why these cabin style instant camping tents are better suited for campers who prefer to only camp during ideal conditions during spring, summer, and fall.

If you do frequently camp in windy conditions, perhaps a dome tent or a tunnel shape would better deflect wind (check out the Best Tents for High Winds).

Ease of Setup

Normally we would discuss if a tent is easy to setup or not, and this would be a contributing factor to your tent shopping. However, these pop-up tents are all quick and easy to setup, even with just one or two people. While manufacturers do tend to exaggerate how quickly any tent can be setup, these tents are all super quick and easy, so you should have no problems getting setup efficiently.

Fabric Durability

The durability of the fabric is typically represented as denier (or sometimes shown as a capital D). The higher the number the better, with 65-70 being pretty average for a decent quality tent. If you want a tent that’s going to last, you should always look at higher denier fabrics. This idea is one of the reasons we selected the Gazelle T4 as our Editor’s Choice, since it has high denier fabrics, but all of the tents on this list would be a good choice for most car campers.

The Gazelle T4 is the most waterproof tent on this list.

Waterhead Rating

Waterhead rating is measurement of how waterproof a tent is, with a higher number being better. The minimum recommended waterhead rating sits right around 1200mm, with 1500mm or more showing that the tent is better suited for rainy/wet conditions.

Most of the tents on this list don’t advertise their waterhead rating, which makes us skeptical. We would only recommend using these tents in ideal camping conditions, as it seems like these specific models put more effort into their cool design rather than their waterproofing.

The only exception to this is our Editor’s Choice Gazelle T4 Hub, which as a generous fabric quality and waterhead rating, but that’s why it’s our favorite tent on this list. That being said, the other tents do have taped seams and a rain fly, so they should be suited for some light rain and wind.

Poles

Poles are usually made of either fiberglass or aluminum, but with instant tents we also see steel as a pole material. While steel does add weight, these tents aren’t meant for backpacking so that shouldn’t be a big deal. Otherwise, steel also adds strength, and it’s a sign of a sturdy pole.

Generally fiberglass is used to cut cost, but it’s also more prone to splintering and breaking. While fiberglass isn’t the preferred material, it doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker either. Just know that a tent with fiberglass poles is going to be slightly less wind resistant, which is already a factor in these tall cabin tents like we discussed above.

No matter the pole material, make sure you guy out your tent for added stability, which will take some of the pressure off the poles.

Price

While it’s tempting to buy the cheapest option you can find, keep in mind that cutting corners on price means the manufacturer cut corners on quality. It’s important to have a tent that will last more than one night, or even preferably more than one season, so make sure you’re spending the right amount of money for the quality you need.

There’s different times of year that are the best time to buy a tent for cheap, but there’s also year-round options for tents under $100 and tents under $200. If you want to spend a little more on a high quality tent that’s more likely to last several seasons, we would recommend shopping by capacity (links above under ‘capacity’) to find something that’s the right size and price for you.

Instant Vs. Pop Up Tents

While pop up tents are considered instant tents, instant tents aren’t necessarily pop up. They’re really two different kinds of tents, each with their own pros and cons. Pop up tents ‘pop’ into place – think about the windshield screen in your car. The only pop up tent on this list is the Coleman 2 person, which is a great small tent.

On the other hand, instant tents assemble quickly and easily, but don’t ‘pop’ up. They use pre attached poles that unfold and snap into place, which keeps setup time under 90 seconds in most cases. Unless you’re looking for a really small pop up tent, most instant tents will typically have better fabrics and higher quality poles, making them a better option in most circumstances.

The Coleman Pop Up Tents can either have regular tent fabric or their proprietary Dark Room Technology.

Fast Pitch Tent Vs. Instant Tent

Fast pitch tents and instant tents are both designed to minimize setup time, but they have different mechanisms and offer varied benefits. An instant tent is generally equipped with pre attached poles, which allows it easily take shape after being removed from its carry bag, often making the setup process a matter of minutes, or even seconds. On the other hand, a fast pitch tent, while quicker to set up than traditional tents, usually involves a more simplified pole structure and color-coded setup system, but still requires some assembly.

Dome Tent Vs. Instant Tent

Dome tents and instant tents represent different aspects of tent designs, each with their own distinct advantages. Dome tents are named for their characteristic shape, formed by two or more flexible poles that cross over the top and provide stability.

This design is particularly useful in windy conditions as it allows the wind to flow around the tent, reducing the chance of it being blown over. Dome tents, however, typically require manual assembly which can take a bit of time, especially for those unfamiliar with the setup.

Conversely, instant tents prioritize speed and ease of setup. They feature attached poles that allow the tent to pop into shape almost instantly once it’s removed from the carry bag.

While this is convenient, it’s worth noting that instant tents may not always provide the same level of stability and weather resistance as dome tents, particularly in more extreme conditions. This is due to their more vertical walls that give them a more distinct cabin shape – those steep walls catch wind like a sail.

FAQ

Which instant tent is best?

The Gazelle T4 Hub is the best instant tent currently on the market, and we love how it uses high quality fabrics while still being super quick and easy to setup.

What is the easiest tent to put up alone?

Any instant tent or pop up tent would be easiest to set up alone. They are built to set up quickly and efficiently using pre-attached poles, so you can spend less time with tent setup and more time enjoying your camping trip.

Can you replace tent poles in an instant tent?

Tent poles in an instant tent are usually pre-attached, so it can be more difficult to replace them if one accidentally breaks. It would be worth reaching out directly to the manufacturer to see if the poles are replacible, especially if your tent is still under warranty.

Conclusion

These tents make setup incredibly easy so you can focus on the more important parts of camping. Once you get one of these tents, you won’t want to go back to a traditional design.

Now that you know everything there is to know about the top instant tents on the market, we’re sure that you can make an great decision on which one is perfect for you and your typical car camping situation. Whether you go with our Editor’s Choice Gazelle T4 Hub Tent or any of the others on this list, we hope you have many fun camping adventures in your new tent.

Our #1 Recommendation: T4 Hub Tent by Gazelle

We love how the Gazelle T4 Hub tent has superior fabric quality and a high waterhead rating while still setting up in less than two minutes.

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